As winter storms batter New York, citizens' concerns are primarily loss of services. Power outages and phone disruptions are common ocurrances when severe weather strikes.
Electric power provider National Grid and Verizon phone services both issued statements today to reassure the public as to their readiness to respond if the storms cause service disruptions.
“Our first priority is always the safety of the public, our customers, and our employees,” said Keith McAfee, National Grid vice president of electric operations in New York. “We have been tracking this front for several days, and preparedness plans are in place to make sure our crews are ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible.”
National Grid will be increasing overnight staffing in the areas expected to be affected, and will have additional field and support personnel ready to address any service issues that could arise from weather damage. Customer contact offices will be increasing staffing, and support personnel are making sure that crew locations are fully stocked with equipment to repair service as needed.
National Grid officials work proactively with communities and municipal officials throughout the region to keep them updated on preparations and provide contact and safety information that can be passed along to constituents in the event of severe damage from the winds.
Usually, it is when tree limbs and branches break and fall onto power lines that cause the power outages. Tree limbs break due to heavy snow piling onto them, or are blown off by high winds.
National Grid advises customers to be prepared as heavy snow can cause local electrical service interruptions. With driving conditions expected to be potentially treacherous, the company also urges particular caution around any crew work location, especially where visibility might limited by blowing snow.
- Outage reporting hotline – Upstate New York customers can call 1-800-867-5222 to report an outage.
- Text messages – Customers can receive text message alerts and updates through a free service the company offers. Text the word STORM to NGRID (64743) to sign up for the service.
- National Grid uses social media – Facebook and Twitter – to communicate with customers about service issues and interruptions during storms.
- E-mail alerts are also available to customers who create an online profile on the company’s website. All alert services can be started and stopped at the customer’s request.
- Customers can use their mobile devices to track outage information and storm related safety tips through National Grid’s new mobile site that can be accessed at nationalgrid.com.
Verizon phone systems also issued a statement today regarding the storms. This was sent to the area's 911 Dispatch Centers and to Public Safety officials.
It read "As Winter Storm Nemo (as named by The Weather Channel) nears, Verizon is committed to providing continuous service for its clients. Please call the 911 Customer Care Center at 800-773-7911 to report any service issues. The Center has extra staff working in anticipation of the storm. Service Managers are on-call and available as needed. Please feel free to use the escalation lists if needed.
Verizon is currently at StormCon2. Verizon emergency response organizations are in the process of completing StormCon2 checklists. We will continue to monitor the storm. The storm has the potential to down trees and power lines as well as make for difficult travel.
It is important to stay safe before, during and after the storm. Here are some tips to help customers avoid injuries and stay safe:
- It’s a good idea to have a number of working flashlights, at least one battery-operated radio and an extra supply of batteries in your home. A radio is a good way to stay in touch, as National Grid provides news media with timely information regarding service restoration efforts.
- Never touch downed power lines, and always assume that any fallen lines are live electric wires. If you see one, report it immediately to National Grid or your local emergency response organization.
- If you use a generator to supply power during an outage, be sure to only operate it outdoors. Before operating generators, be sure to disconnect from National Grid’s system by shutting off the main breaker located in the electric service panel. Failure to do this could jeopardize crew safety.
- If you lose power, turn off any appliances that were on when the power went off, but leave one light on so you will know when power is restored.
- Power problems can sometimes interrupt public water supply systems or disable well pumps, so it’s an especially good idea to keep a supply of bottled drinking water handy, as well as some canned food.
- People who depend on electric-powered life support equipment, such as a respirator, should let National Grid know. To register as a National Grid life support customer, call the company’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-642-4272
- National Grid customers who experience outages should call National Grid’s outage line at 1-800-867-5222.
- Check on elderly family members, neighbors and others who may need assistance during an outage period.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a State of Disaster Emergency for a number of counties, primarily in the New York City area. Over 2300 flights have been cancelled already as parts of New York and New England could see over 2 feet of snow.
As of 6pm, there were no widespread power outages in St. Lawrence County. "We've had a number of accidents, but no reported storm damage so far" reported 911 Dispatch Supervisor Jackie Brown.
With the steady snowfall expected to continue into tomorrow, officials are urging the public to stay off the roads to allow crews to safely operate.
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